In the Mexican Caribbean, you will find paradisiacal beaches, grand hotels, and gourmet food. When you think of this destination, mass tourism also comes to mind since it's one of the top tourist destinations in the world. However, in this area of Mexico, there is a little-known and wonderful site, Contoy Island, located 19 miles from Isla Mujeres.
Contoy is one of the most beautiful islands in Mexico. The white sand and turquoise waters will leave you breathless. Once you reach its beaches, you can enjoy unique landscapes. According to archaeological evidence, it was first visited in the third century B.C., although it's believed that it was never permanently inhabited due to the lack of freshwater. In 1998 it was declared a Protected National Park and is highly surveilled. The usual inhabitants consist of researchers and biologists, and there's a limit of 200 visitors per day. This destination captivated the French biologist Jacques-Yves Cousteau for its diversity, and to this day, it preserves its natural beauty.
There are protected species of flora and fauna in its 230 hectares of paradise, which shelter magnificent natural wonders, such as the second-largest reef in the world: Ixlaché. To preserve its semi-virgin beaches, this site does not have hotels or places to stay. You can only visit on a day tour, which is plenty of time to enjoy it and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city and daily routine. If you want to know more about the history and pre-Hispanic legacy of the island, visit the local museum, where you will also learn more about the unique flora and fauna of the island.
How to get to Contoy Island
To reach this hidden gem, you can do it from Cancun, Isla Mujeres, or Puerto Morelos. These sites have tour operators that offer a day trip to the paradisiacal Isla Contoy. Just make sure that they're certified by the Protected Area Authorities. Otherwise, if your boat is inspected, you may not be allowed to enter the island. Most tours to Isla Contoy depart from Cancun and make a one-hour stop at Isla Mujeres.
You can also travel to Isla Mujeres on a ferry and set sail to Isla Contoy on a separate tour. With this option, you could take the opportunity to stay a night in Isla Mujeres to enjoy this vibrant tourist spot too. There is no way to get to the island independently. Try to book in advance, as only 200 travelers per day are allowed to enter Isla Contoy.
Things to do in Contoy Island
Contoy Island is also known as Isla de los Pájaros or Bird Island due to the great diversity of birds that inhabit and take refuge there. In this park, you will find a sanctuary of protected species. During your visit to Isla Contoy, you can do various activities. Snorkeling is one of the main attractions, as you will be able to observe the coral reef and all the diversity of marine life.
Isla Contoy is a paradise destination, ideal for those looking for virgin beaches since this site is practically uninhabited. Another top attraction is to swim with the largest fish in the ocean: the whale shark, a species that can measure up to 60 feet in length, and here you will find the largest concentration of these animals. Be careful where you step because there are a lot of crabs. Visit the lighthouse for a stunning panoramic view, and the best thing is that the entrance is free.
Explore Contoy Island on a Tour
There are several tours to the island, which include round-trip sea transportation and snorkeling equipment. The price will depend on the place from where you depart. For example, tours departing from Cancun cost approximately $90 for adults and $70 for children. Some packages include insurance, a light breakfast, lunch, drinks, and even cocktails. Always do your research and search for reputable tour operators to make the most out of your day trip.
The mysteries of the Mexican Caribbean await discovery, venture to Contoy Island, one of the best-kept secrets of this region. This vacation experience in the state of Quintana Roo will be one you'll never forget.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
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